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astray. Sordid men refused grants which every consideration of fairness, to say nothing of gratitude, should have caused them to make. But underneath it all was the demand of the
for liberty, a demand expressing itself oftentimes unwisely and ungraciously, but leading on the people to the inevitable goal of perfect democracy.
Penn himself was an enthusiast for liberty. So far from desiring reservations of power for himself he spread abroad among the people the principles of the advanced republicanism of his day. In 1687 he published in Philadelphia for local circulation a copy of Magna Charta, with introduction and comments evidently intended to give his colonists a knowledge of their liberties and to incite them to demand them. The treatise also contains "A Confirmation of the Charters of the Liberties of England and of the Forest made Anno XXV. Edward I.; the sentence of the Clergy against the Breakers of
these Articles; the sentence or curse given by the Bishops against the Breakers of the Great Charter; a statute made Anno XXXIV. Ed. ward I., commonly called De Tallagio non Concedendo," an abstract of Penn's patent, and a copy of The Frame of Government.
It could hardly be doubted that the man who made the eloquent and effective defence, with William Mead, of himself and the jury that acquitted him, in 1670, understood and appreciated the full meaning of civil liberty. His views did not change when from being a prisoner he became the ruler of a province. Nothing could be more eloquent than his address“ To the Reader " of his book of 1687.
It may reasonably be supposed that we shall find in this part of the world many inen, both old and young, that are strangers in a great measure to the true understanding of that inestimable inheritance that every free-born subject of England is heir unto by birthright, I mean that un. paralleled privilege of Liberty and Property beyond all the nations in the world beside ; and it is to be wished that all men did rightly understand their own happiness therein ; in pursuance of which I do here present thee with that ancient garland, the Fundamental Laws of Eng. land, bedecked with many precious privileges of Liberty and Property, by which every man that is a subject to the Crown of England, may understand what is his right and how to preserve it from unjust and unreason. able men ; whereby appears the eminent care and wis. dom and industry of our progenitors in providing for them. selves and posterity so good a fortress that is able to repel
Tbere is only one copy of this issue known to exist. This is in possession of “ The Friends' Meeting for Suffer. ings” at 304 Arch Street, Philadelphia. A handsome edi. tion of 155 copies has been published (1897) by the Philobiblion Club of Philadelphia. William Penn's name does not appear, but David Lloyd in 1728 refers to it a Penn's production.
the lust, pride and power of the noble as well as the ig. norance of the ignoble ; it being that excellent and discreet balance that gives every man his even proportion, which cannot be taken from him, nor be dispossessed of his life, liberty or estate, but by the trial and judgment of twelve of his equals, or Law of the Land, upon the pen. alty of the bitter curses of the whole people ; 80 great was the zeal of our predecessors for the preservation of these fundamental liberties (contained in these charters) from encroachment, that they employed all their policy and religious obligations to secure them entire and inviolable, albeit the contrary hath often bcen endeavored, yet Provi. dence hitherto hath preserved them as a blessing to the English subjects.
The chief end of the publication hereof is for the in. formation and understanding (what is their native right and inheritance) of such who may not have leisure from their plantations to read large volumes ; and beside I know this country is not furnished with law books, and this being the sort from whence all our wholesome English laws spring, and indeed the line by which they must be squared, I have ventured to make it public, hoping it may be of use and se: vice to many freemen planters and in. habitants of this country, to whom it is sent and recommended, wishing it may raise up noble resolutions in all the freeholders in these new colonies not to give away anything of Liberty and Property that at present they do (or of right as loyal subjects ought to) enjoy, but take up the good example of our ancestors, and understand that it in enny to part with or give away great privilegca, but hard to be gained if once lost. And therefore all depends upon our kindest care and actings to preserve and lay sure foundations for ourselves and the posterity of our loins.
the great impetus given to the cause of human liberty by his well meant and in the main wise efforts. Reformers never get what they work for just as they expect it.
Pennsylvania became the most consistently free colony in the country, the most consistently prosperous, the most rapid in its growth in freedom and prosperity. So nearly had the inhabitants everything they could desire that they hesitated to take up the Revolutionary cause in 1775. Their charter, their traditions, their thoughts were all free, and they were slow to understand the fervor of New England and Virginia.*
* The glowing words of Andrew Hamilton, when giving up his place as Speaker of the Assembly in 1739, were un. doubtedly true:
“ It is not to the fertility of our soil or the commodious. ness of our rivers that we ought chicfly to attribute the great progress this province has made within so sinall a compass of years in improvements, wealth, trade, and navigation, and the extraordinary increase of peoplo who have been drawn froin every country in Europe; it is all due to the excellency of our Constitution. Our foreign trade and shipping are free from all imposts except those small duties payable to his Majesty by the statute laws of Great Britain. The tases are inconsiderable, for the sole power of raising and disposing of public money is lodged in the Assembly. . . . By many years' experience we find that an equality among religious societies, without distin.
Could William Penn have lived a century longer he would not have seen the exact State of his imagination, but he would have recognized
By the charter of Charles II. William Penn was made absolute proprietor of Pennsylvania and was authorized, with the assent of the freemen or their representatives, to make all laws not inconsistent with those of England and to appoint judges and other officers. In cases of emergency he might be absolute lawmaker without calling together the legislative body. There was to be an appeal allowed to England at the expiration of five years after the passage of
any law, and the Crown thus reserved the power of veto on all Pennsylvania enactments.
Armed with thcsc powers and limitations he went to work at constitution-making. The various trials may be seen among the “ Penn MSS.” in the library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Anyone having the time and patience to follow out the efforts of the author in the mass of old writings, with their erasures and interlinear and marginal corrections, might probably trace the steps through which the final Frame of
Government was perfected. Evidently more than one hand and brain wrought for the establishment of the new State. The papers have neither date nor name, and it is difficult to tell whether they are products of different original drafts, or the same draft modified by different advisers. It is probable that Algernon Sidney aided Penn in the work. In proof of this we have the fact that Penn interested himself vigorously in furthering Sidney's election to Parliament, and had a high estimate of his character and political views. He says, in a letter to him, after referring to "the discourse we had together at my house about me drawing constitutions," .... "I took my pen and immediately altered the terms so as they corresponded with thy objection and sense. Upon which thou didst draw a draft, as to the Frame of Government, gave it to me to read, and we discourst with considerable argument.' Benjamin Furly, a Friend of considerable influence in Holland, is known to have criticized the final “Frame,” and it would have been well had his corrections been adopted in advance, as the logic of events required most of them to be finally. Others of Penn's co-religionists, and some intending immigrants, were also
guishing one sect with greater privileges than another is the most effective method to discourage hypocrisy, promote the practise of moral virtues, and prevent the plagues and mischiefs which always attend religious squabbling. This is our Constitution, and this Constitution was framed by the wisdom of Mr. Penn.”